Expression of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A2/B1 in bronchial epithelium of chronic smokers
The monoclonal antibody 703D4, which binds heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A2/B1 (hnRNP A2/B1), has been reported to detect lung cancer more than a year earlier than routine chest X-ray or cytomorphology. To explore the biological basis of this detection, we studied the expression of this antigen in the central airways of smokers with evidence of bronchial metaplasia using specimens from a previously reported, randomized retinoid chemoprevention trial. By analyzing 1078 available biopsy specimens from 147 individuals at baseline and 68 individuals who completed the intervention, we frequently detected overexpression of hnRNP A2/B1 in normal and abnormal bronchial epithelium (i.e., in 41% of normal and 37% of squamous metaplasia samples). There was no correlation between hnRNP A2/B1 overexpression and the different histological changes. In cases with hnRNP A2/B1 overexpression, immunoreactivity was homogeneously expressed in all biopsied sites. For the 68 cases with serial biopsies, there was no significant modulation of hnRNP expression by retinoid intervention or smoking status. With lung cancer cell lines, 0.5-4 microM concentrations of 13-cis-retinoic acid reduced hnRNP A2/B1 overexpression by immunocytochemistry. We conclude that hnRNP A2/B1 overexpression is frequently found in central airways of chronic smokers, consistent with the pattern of expression that we reported previously in airways surrounding resected primary lung cancers. Oral 13-cis-retinoic acid at a dose of 1 mg/kg has no demonstrable effects on modulating hnRNP A2/B1 expression in proximal bronchial epithelium.